If you’re hosting a festive feast this holiday season, it’s likely that you have an ever-growing to-do list that keeps getting longer. From grocery shopping to preparing the food, creating lavish centerpieces on the dining table and keeping your guests entertained, playing host can be a stressful job.
To help keep your stress levels low and spirits high, we’ve gathered the best holiday hacks from chefs and celebrities to get your dinner on the table faster, easier and tastier. They’ve got your back to make sure your holiday season goes off without a hitch!
Food prep hacks
Lay all of your plates and platters on the dining table, and label them with sticky notes describing which food will go on that plate. This will help you from second guessing yourself come serving time!
Giada De Laurentiis, Food Network host
You can make your gravy ahead of time — as much as a week early — and freeze it. This way, you don’t have to rush to make it while the turkey is resting.
Andrew Zimmern, Travel Channel host
Let your turkey sit in the fridge uncovered the night before you start cooking. This allows the skin to dry out, which makes it crispier when it’s cooked.
Geoffrey Zakarian, executive chef and Food Network judge
Be sure to get a good night’s sleep, delegate tasks and side dishes to others, and treat yourself to a glass of champagne when all is said and done.
Gordon Ramsay, world-renowned chef and restaurateur
To avoid some of the typical stresses that come with cooking a feast, prep as much as you can in advance. Freeze casseroles and pre-season your meats, then pop them in the oven when you’re ready!
Jamika Pessoa, Food Network personality
Once the turkey comes out of the oven, let it rest for about an hour. When you slice it, the juices won’t run all over and you’ll end up with a super tender turkey!
Ryan Hardy, executive chef
After carving the bird, put it on a tray and cover it in hot chicken stock. This ensures your turkey is hot and juicy!
Bobby Flay, celebrity chef and restaurateur
Cut large potatoes into chunks and place them under the turkey as a roasting rack — they’ll get a delicious flavor from all the turkey drippings and you’ll save space!
Alex Guarnaschelli, executive chef and television personality
Once you’ve finished making your gravy, store it in a thermos until it’s time to eat. This not only saves you reheating time, it also ensures your guests enjoy a delicious and warm gravy.
Ryan Scott, chef and television personality
If you’re a fan of both sweet and savory, try making an easy glaze with jam, stock and herbs that creates a mouthwatering sweet exterior for your turkey.
Sunny Anderson, Food Network personality
To get a photoshoot-ready turkey, brush your bird with balsamic vinegar 10–15 minutes before pulling it from the oven.
Lidia Bastianich, television host and bestselling cookbook author
Similar to sous vide cooking, cook your turkey in an oven-safe bag to make cleanup easy. Bonus: it also helps make your turkey more tender!
Devin Alexander, chef and cookbook author
Don’t wait until everything is finished to begin cleaning! Wipe down your work station as you go, and keeping a garbage bowl for scraps and peels to make cleanup a breeze.
Devin Connell, restaurateur and Food Network Canada host
While you’re busy preparing the feast, take some extra stress off yourself by creating a make-your-own cocktail station for guests. Not only is it one less thing to worry about, it also allows your guests to make their drinks exactly how they prefer.
Ali Larter, actress
Hosting your relatives for a holiday dinner? Add a personal touch to your table decor by using childhood photos of each family member instead of name cards. Then reminisce about your favorite family memories!
J.J. Johnson, award-winning chef
It’s totally okay if you opt for some store-bought items for part of your meal! Just replate these items on decorative platters to make the dishes that aren’t homemade a bit more festive.
Kristen Bell, actress
Kids’ tables are great during mealtime, but it’s important that your young guests are entertained throughout the duration of your party. Consider setting up an arts and crafts table to keep them occupied!
Tiffani Thiessen, actress
Before your guests arrive and the chaos of the party begins, have a playlist ready to go. Music is an important factor in setting the tone of the party, so make it festive!
Gwyneth Paltrow, actress and author
Whether you’re hosting your first or your 50th festive dinner party, these holiday hacks are sure to help make your life a little bit easier! To check a few more items off your to-do list, we’ve got you covered on everything from decor to personalized tableware. Don’t drain your energy worrying about every little detail, and focus instead on what is really important: spreading holiday joy and spending time with your family and friends.